Tsyzu: The King has been Dethroned, and his subjects mourn the loss

04.06.05 - By Izyaslav ďSlavaĒ Koza: Well, as with Jirov-Moorer, Tszyu v Hatton was, again, a huge disappointment for me. As most fans know, it is a horrible feeling to see one of your favorites lose, and if youíre a true fan, in some sense, you feel that you have been defeated as well. I sense that whatever explanation I am about to attempt and offer up, will be treated as a bonified excuse making session by the extreme Hatton fans, which is why I want to make clear that the following is an analysis of how I saw the fight, and not an attempt to belittle Hattonís victory as any less meaningful and any less deserved.

The first thing I want to mention is, you cannot take conditioning as a factor going into this fight. Both guys were very primed and very well trained and that was obvious. The fact that Kostya Tszyu was 35, was not as big, was not as important as it was made out to be, except for one issue I want to discuss. Kostya Tszyu said he trains for his fights now the same way physically as when he first started professional boxing.

Now, that is all well and good, except that his body is physically not the same as it was when he first started professional boxing. So, the amount of great conditioning his 25 year old version received from the same amount of training, should not be the same amount of great conditioning that his 35 year old version received.

On the other hand, however, perhaps his training was so challenging and demanding that this was a none issue. Yet, this is something that only a fighter himself can know about their body. Holyfield probably goes through tremendous training himself and just cannot get back what he had maybe 10 years ago. I certainly do not believe that his conditioning was a factor here, but I do think that if he does choose to continue boxing, that looking into modifying or changing his training might be an idea that should be looked into, in order to accommodate his age.

If you never try anything new in terms of training, then you donít have a chance to test and see what makes your performance optimal. Again, however, I thought Kostya Tszyu was being leaned on by Hatton, and tiring because of that, more so then because he wasnít prepared 100%. Kostya looked younger at the weigh-in for this fight, then for other fights, I thought. During the fight, however, I did think that his legs were not as strong looking, or as thick as they were for Mitchell or Judah.

I also donít think this was a matter of overconfidence, at least not in the traditional sense. Kostya was extremely serious in preparing and entering into this fight. He looked very serious coming into the ring, and did not seem distracted or bothered. I did think his eyes seemed a bit bloodshot, and that maybe what Bernstein mentioned about the fight being at 2 a.m. had something to do with this, but since Kostya, himself, said after the fight, that the time was a complete non factor, I treat this as more of an after thought, rather then as the reason for why Kostya was defeated. Usually, when a fighter is overconfident, they treat their opponent like garbage, leading up to and in the opening stanzas of the fight itself.

For instance, if you take a look at Golota-Brewster, and watch the stare down, Golota looks like he has completely bought into the fact that Brewster is a class beneath him. That is the overconfidence I am talking about, and that is precisely what DIDNíT happen here. Kostya Tszyu did not underestimate Hatton, and think he was a weak opponent in the traditional sense, and under prepare, or lose focus in the mental preparation aspect.

Honestly, the real reason I think Kostya Tsyzu lost this fight, is because of his strategy in the ring. A few weeks back before this fight, me and some other fans were discussing the strengths and weaknesses of both fighters. I contended that even though Hatton may be a good fighter and have definite positive traits, Kostya was just so much better in every aspect of the sport. Now people may laugh now in retrospect, but I wasnít talking out of my backside, when I said this, I was basing this on all the previous fights that I saw both fighters in.

Hatton gave me no reason to believe that he had anything on Tsyzu, and I donít think of myself as stupid, or blind and bias, in making that assumption. The real issue that was focused on, however, was in fighting, because that is what Hatton discussed and claimed he would excel at in order to take this fight away from the champion. Now, I didnít claim Hatton was a bad in fighter, but I did claim Kostya was better, because of fights like Tsyzu-Mitchell 2, where Kostyaís left hook, really discouraged Mitchell from trying to get inside.

Before that prime example, there were numerous times, where Kostya just through sheer strength and force disentangles himself from his opponent and punishes them for trying to get in close. I mean, that is more then I thought of Hatton, who gets clipped often when moving in (and even got clipped on occasion in that fight). Obviously, in retrospect, after the fight, it is clear to see that Hattonís strategy was more correct, and he did what he said he would do and get in close and take into the later rounds and get the job done.

I think the best example of what I was trying to say is seen in what Kostya himself said after the fight ended. He saw that Hatton was getting in close and said ďok, you want to go like this, letís go like this.Ē That is really the biggest reason for why I think Kostya lost this fight, he chose to fight Hattonís fight. If you look at the times when there is a distance between the two fighters, Kostya is easily keeping Hatton off balance with a solid jab. There were instances where Hatton was stunned in his tracks by the straight right, and yet, even though everything was nudging Tszyu to keep it on the outside, he chose to fight on the inside.

Now, some issue was made about the referee allowing the fighters to get in close and not separating them when they did tangle up. I, for one, think he did a good job in that department. Kostya wasnít tying Hatton up when Ricky got inside, he was trying to land his own shots on the inside, because, again, he clearly thought that he had Ricky licked in every way. So, the ref let the fight go on, in the close distance, and that is what Hatton wanted and that is what won him the fight.

I donít even think Hatton landed the more telling blows. In fact, his punches, were never really that great, but they did their job in stopping Kostya from landing his, they smothered his attack, they didnít let him breath. They did to him, what he said he would do to Zab Judah, and that is, he kept him under constant pressure. Again, I thought Kostyaís punching, especially when the distance was set, easily had him beating Hatton, in that aspect. Hatton missed wildly at times, Hatton was off balance (especially after the 4th round, I think it was), Hatton didnít have an answer for Kostya on the outside, but on the inside, Kostya didnít have an answer for Hatton.

Yet, while Hatton knew he didnít have an answer for Kostya on the outside, Kostya thought he could match Hatton on the inside. I thought Kostya was fair in claiming he was losing the fight. I had it even after about 7, and even though Kostya had his moments throughout, there was no question as to who was dictating his pace, and who was making the other man do what he wanted him to do. I donít think 107-102 Hatton, really defines this fight (which is curiously what the lone American judge had it, while the two European judges had it for Hatton by 2 and 1 points respectively), but Hatton was winning this fight in my eyes.

In terms of the fighters tasting canvas, I have to be honest and say that I thought Hatton might have been legitimately knocked down, while it was obvious Kostya hit low. The question is where did the referee determine the fighters were allowed to hit each other before the fight? Kostya landed directly on the belt line with a monstrous body shot, and Hatton was visibly hurt by it in my eyes. I think it could have been also that he was not hurt enough to actually go down, but pretended to be hurt (and actually grabbed lower then where Kostya connected) in order to maybe have a sympathy point deduction. Who knows, like I said, it is all an issue of where the referee signaled was low and where was not. I, unfortunately, did not look closely at the stare down before the first round, to realize where the referee pointed to. Like I said, to me, upon the replay, I thought it was more a result of a massive body blow, then actually being hurt in the jewels.

The same I will say about the warning sometime later. Kostya was again hitting Hatton in the body and on the belt line, and not really going downstairs. Hatton, however, clearly hit Kostya low as was obvious on the replay. That punch was well below any belt line, and was also badly intentioned to send Kostya a message I donít think was warranted seeing as Tszyu was not playing dirty. This is all academic however, and just something I always mention so that people see what my feelings are on those issues.

Finally, I think what is ultimately the worst for me is that Kostya quit in this fight. I mean, I know there will be discussions on, who was instrumental in doing what in that corner after the 11th, Lewis, Kostya, another cornerman, but really the ďno masĒ is on the man because, like he said, ďI didnít complain.Ē If you're champ, you return home with your shield or on it, and I really think that if Kostya were to lose, he should have done it in the ring on his feet, rather than on his stool. It's just you have this tremendous image of a fighter, somebody with heart, determination, desire, and something like this leaves you saddened and confused as a fan.

I mean, I understand that as a family man, and as a sensible person it cannot be all black and white for Tsyzu, like it is for us, in terms of quit or donít quit. Tsyzu has a family, he has kids, if he believes he will be seriously hurt in there, in that last round, perhaps he shouldnít take that risk. Who knows? Tommorow we could be reading about Kostya fighting on with a broken jaw, for 7 rounds straight or something, but right now, as a fan, the fact that he effectively said ďno mas,Ē is the worst part of this whole thing.

Article posted on 05.06.2005

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